It’s 10am on Tuesday morning and I’m at Café Medici in Austin, waiting to meet up with the Director of the Bicycle World sponsored Elevate Pro Cycling Team, Heath Blackgrove. I’m nervous. It’s not that Heath is unapproachable, he isn’t, the few times that we’ve talked he’s been congenial and open. He did agree to give up his morning and meet me here, after all.
No, I’m nervous because Heath is the real thing, proven at some of the biggest events in the world. He’s raced in the Olympics, the Commonwealth Games and the World Championships. He’s won so many New Zealand national titles that I won’t even bother to list them all. He’s lived and raced in Belgium. He’s done a lot of things I haven’t.
“Don’t let him be too humble,” Was the advice one of his friends gave me when he found out that we were going to meet.
It’s funny how often it seems that the people who have accomplished the most, are the most reluctant to talk about themselves.
Heath rides up on his Giant TCR and we shake hands. He goes inside to grab a coffee and I snap a couple of quick images of his bike before I ask him about his new job as Team Director. We chat quite a bit about the van that pulled out in front of the team at training camp a few months ago, two days before the team's debut at the Pace Bend Road Race. You see, this was supposed to be a banner year for Heath. He won an astonishing twenty-two races in 2015, including the Texas State Road Race Championship. He was feeling the “sensations”, as they say.
“My numbers were as good as I’d seen since I started using a power meter,” Heath tells me. He stares off for a second and then continues on “My goal was to go to the Redlands Classic and podium. I was looking at going into the role I’m in now, but I was looking to go out on my time frame, and I know that I still had a lot to give. A strong start to the 2016 season was in the cards. That was probably the hardest thing. Having that taken away from me.”